Imagine being able to choose from 15 different eateries in one place, with fresh food made by famous local chefs, all while enjoying local entertainment. This will be a reality in the Fenway this spring—yes, this spring—with Time Out Market opening one of its first US locations at 401 Park Drive.
The idea for Time Out Market, a food a cultural market, came from Time Out magazine, which is circulated worldwide and provides its readers with cultural and entertainment articles.
“Time Out Market will usher in the next phase of The Fenway’s food evolution, along with the next iteration of one of the Boston’s most historic and treasured buildings,” a spokesperson from developer Samuels & Associates, the developer for the 401 Park project, said. “Much like what the original Time Out Market did with Lisbon’s Mercado da Riberia, we’re thrilled to transform the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. building into a new culinary experience and gathering place for the neighborhood.”
The Sun spoke with Time Out Market CEO Didier Souillat to gain some insight into what this food hall is going to add to Fenway’s vibrancy.
The first Time Out Market opened five years ago in Lisbon, Portugal. “It came because Time Out magazine was very well implemented and recognized there,” he said. The editorial team wrote a lot about the best things to do and the best things eat, so he said the editor of the magazine at the time came up with the idea of bringing the magazine to life. “We had the know-how and the connections to make this happen physically in a space, and this is where it started,” Souillat said.
Now they have come full circle—“we’ve learned from Lisbon what worked and what didn’t work.” They will be opening five markets this year in Montreal, Chicago, Miami, New York, and of course, Boston. Souillat said that when scouting out cities to open markets in, they look for cities where the brand is known and where it has made an impact. “We always look for areas in cities where we can find locations and buildings that have a certain DNA and the location which is up and coming but where we can afford to pay the rent now,” he said.
Souillat added that they also look for areas where tourists frequent, as well as where locals live and people work. “We found Fenway was the right location for us because of the Red Sox and year round tourism, there are offices around, and students are next door,” he said. “That became a big plus for us.”
Aside from the location, the food is a major focus of the market. Souillat said they chose Boston also because it has a lot of famous chefs, “and we recognized it is the place to be.”
“Time Out critics tested, tasted and reviewed the best food Boston has to offer and we are very proud to reveal such an impressive first line-up of incredible chess and restaurateurs who will join Time Out Market,” Souillat said in a press release. Some of the chefs include Tony Maws of Craigie on Main who will feature variations of his signature Craigie Burger, of which only 18 are served per night at his main restaurant. Peter Ungar of the Tasting Counter will offer up dishes like Lettuce Brined Black Sea Bass with Macadamia and Lemon Verbena and Fermented Blueberry Sorbet. And Union Square Donuts will be handcrafting their famous donuts for people to enjoy.
It’s a “pretty good mix of chefs; those guys are right in Boston and they’re nationally and locally known as well,” Souillat said.
Since it’s Boston, Souillat said that there will be classic New England seafood and lobster rolls. And “you have to have a burger and pizza—it’s obvious,” he added. He said the signature chefs will put their own spin on these dishes and “cook what represents themselves.” He also said the market will have some sort of health/juice bar, a coffee component, and a dessert component. “There’s still quite a bit more to be announced,” he said.
Sourcing locally is also a big component of Time Out Market. “We always work with local designers,” Soulla said, and the executive architects are local as well as the designer for the Fenway space. He said they work with the building and the components of the city, and incorporate in a lot of historic details. For the historic 401 Park Drive building, they have “kept the DNA of the building,” including some original bricks inside the building.
The layout of the food hall has a communal feel, with big tables surrounded by activity, entertainment, and a cultural market. “Time Out will be activating the space with activity there: concert music, poetry, magicians; always activated cultural activities coming from there,” Souillat said.
While the concept for the Boston location will be the same as the Lisbon one in that it has the best representation of the chefs in the area as well as a cultural element, the Lisbon school has a cooking school while the Boston location will not. It will, however, have a demo kitchen—a space where chefs can cook and demonstrate dishes to local kids on weekends. The chefs can all take turns, which will activate the space with the local community. It will also allow “up-and-coming chefs to see how the local customer reacts to their food components,” Souillat said. He said that Time Out Market chef partners, which are located around the globe, are also invited to come and try out their dishes in a new market with the demo kitchen. “Time Out Market isn’t just a food hall—it is the world’s first food and cultural market based wholly on editorial curation. At the heart of everything we do is our dedication to curating the best the city—its best food, drinks and cultural experiences. It is all about making fine dining casual, and casual extraordinary. We call it the democratization of fine dining,” Souillat said in the release. Though there is no official opening date yet, “we are super excited and we’re looking forward to opening in the spring.”